The Leopold Leadership Program at the Woods Institute for the Environment of Stanford University advances environmental decision-making by providing academic scientists with the skills and connections needed to be effective leaders and communicators.

Each year up to 20 academic environmental scientists from across North America are selected to receive intensive experiential training, expert consultation, and peer networking. Leopold Leadership Fellows hone skills to better communicate the science associated with complex environmental issues to the media, policy makers, business leaders and other non-scientists. More than 100 past Fellows are actively engaged in scientific outreach on a range of issues from marine conservation science and river restoration ecology to the impacts of global climate change on human health.

At the heart of the Leopold Leadership Program is the conviction that academic environmental scientists have an essential role to play in communicating environmental science to serve citizens and policy makers as they make choices about the future of the planet.

To enhance the skills of these scientists, the program provides two separate week-long intensive training sessions. Media and policy specialists, leading scientists, and business leaders participate as trainers in "hands on" interactive sessions in which the Leopold Leadership Fellows are taught methods to engage with and communicate to a variety of non-scientific audiences.

A range of experiential techniques, including role playing and small group interactive exercises, are used to help Fellows understand the perspective of diverse audiences (e.g., policy makers or journalists) and to develop specific, appropriate "messages" they want to clearly communicate to those stakeholders.

The training is conducted in modules during the two separate weeks. The first session focuses on leadership development and broad communications and outreach skills. Media representatives and communication specialists conduct
"hands on" training, including mock interviews, writing for different audiences, and development of specific messages.

The second session, focused primarily on interaction with policy makers, industry and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), is held in Washington, D.C.. The week includes modules on interacting with state and federal agencies, international environmental policy, and working with Congress. This week features a mock Congressional hearing where Fellows practice giving testimony concerning environmental legislation.

After completing the two training sessions, Fellows return to their home institutions where they are expected to engage in outreach activities and teach the skills they have learned to their students and colleagues.